Today Michael Arrington tells us that Facebook now sends people the full text of messages received in the on-line application. He says:
Before tonight, Facebook just sent an email saying that a new message was received, forcing me to click on the message and log into Facebook before I could actually read it.
Tonight Facebook changed that policy. Suddenly, Facebook messages are actually forwarded to my outside email address, letting me read it and decide if it’s important enough to click on to Facebook and respond.
This is great. It’s frickin wonderful, even. And Facebook clearly did this even though it reduces page views from people clicking on those messages just to see what they say.
What does this really represent, other than Michael Arrington is too lazy to click on a link?
Facebook is Maturing - Facebook is getting the message that the information on Facebook is someone else's property that they are entrusted with, in exchange for a $15B US valuation. If Facebook continues to hoard our data, people will go elsewhere.
E-mail Does Not Want to Go On the Cart - yes, despite a bit of hubub a few months ago, E-mail is not dead. Even if e-mail probably should die. Facebook stands to be at the forefront of messaging systems that replace e-mail with the security of trusted networks. Using e-mail may be the first step in that.
Data is Used by People with Preferences - Regardless of e-mail's failings and all-too-loud death rattle, people use information in applications that they are used to and find value in. Arrington's demand for Facebook to send the actual message and not just the link was a cry saying "I don't get value from your bloody link!"
Pageviews aren't the Grail - Even though Facebook's revenue model is advertising generated, forced pageviews do not necessarily equate to more pageviews. Membership will drive pageviews much more than forcing people to come look at the message page. So, I offer this bit of correction to Michael's last paragraph up there. Happy users beget more users. More users mean more pageviews.